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The chapter unites anthropological accounts of blood. It introduces refrains that unify themes of the entire book. It argues that blood marks the bounds of religious and social bodies, using Durkheim, Douglas, and Bildhauer; Irenaeus, Maximus, and Aquinas. Iron compounds make blood red, but societies draft its color and stickiness for their own purposes. Inside, blood carries life. Outside, blood marks the body fertile or at risk. But that’s a social fiction. Skin makes a membrane to pass when a body breathes, eats, perspires, eliminates, menstruates, ejaculates, conceives, or bleeds. Only blood evokes so swift and social a response: It brings parent to child, bystander to victim, ambulance to patient, soldier to comrade, midwife to mother, defender to border. The New Testament names the blood of Christ three times as often as his cross – five times as often as his death. The blood of Jesus is the blood of Christ; the wine of communion is the blood of Christ; the means of atonement is the blood of Christ; the kinship of believers is the blood of Christ; the cup of salvation is the blood of Christ; icons ooze with the blood of Christ; and the blood of Christ is the blood of God.
In 2007 the bishops of the US Episcopal Church invited my advice on a “theology of same-sex relationships.” Of what other panelists said – PhDs teaching at respected institutions – the most arresting was: “The trouble with same-sex relationships is they impugn the blood of Christ.” They do what? The original remark attempted a hazing; the final result bestowed a gift, the gift of blood made strange. Blood is supposed to wash gay people with the atonement, even as self-accepting gay people say they don’t need cleansing. It’s supposed to unite Christians in communion, even as sexuality debates divide the churches. It’s supposed to protect the succession of priests, even as bishops shield them for sexual crimes. To some Christians, such failures of Christ’s blood amount to a cosmological disturbance. But what if Jesus becomes a bridegroom of blood, who stays on the cross for love of the (male) thief to whom he promises a life together in paradise? Reflects on Anselm, Abelard, Sebastian Moore, and "pleading the blood."
This chapter analyzes some of the ideological and linguistic mechanisms by which Trump divulges his racism, particularly with respect to Southern Africa. It draws on the work of anthropologist Mary Douglas (1966, 1968) to suggest that with his “shithole” language, Trump attempts to frame the Global South as a site of degeneracy, dirt, matter out of place; essentially, as a form of pollution. In so doing, he encourages paranoid xenophobia of an historically familiar sort. The chapter also assesses some of Trump’s attempts to deflect charges of racism, drawing on a theoretical framework by sociologist Edward Bonilla-Silva (2002, 2006) in his discussion of the discursive strategies Whites tend to use to defend what he terms “color-blind racism.” The final section documents how media and institutions in Southern Africa have responded to Trump’s racist language, by employing discursive strategies of parody, critique, and egalitarianism to encourage non-racialism. In their rejoinders to Donald Trump, these non-racialist advocates attempt to compensate for his verbal injuries while recognizing the equality and dignity of people throughout the world.
Ceremonies of royal investiture have become a privileged site for historical understanding of medieval symbols and politics since they serve to emphasise the king’s authority, the nature of that power, the use of political symbols, the relationship between the king, nobles and prelates and the sacred idea of monarchy. The words and gestures included in the coronation ceremony (its form) validate its communicated particular message (its content). Based on this reality, this first chapter provides a theoretical exposition of the key theories around the ritual nature of self-coronation and its symbolic implications, focusing on historians and anthropologists’ theoretical perspectives. The intensive debate in the field of symbolic anthropology in the 1970s and 1980s on the meaning and interpretation of the rituals, in which scholars like Clifford Geertz, Victor Turner and Mary Douglas became celebrities, seems to have moved to medieval studies in the past two decades. Scholars such as Philippe Buc, Janet Nelson, Geoffrey Koziol, and Gerd Althoff imported these anthropological theories to medieval studies through their agreements and disagreements around the idea of how the medieval rituals must be interpreted – if they exist at all. Taking into consideration these debates, this chapter questions to what extent or whether self-coronations may be considered ‘medieval rituals’ and what self-crowning reveals about ritual.
The word ‘hierarchy’ can mean both status hierarchy and a hierarchy of command. The managerial hierarchy of a modern company is instrumental, not embedded in a system of meaning and values. Late Antique hierarchies of command were on the other hand integrated in the value system, but even so this hierarchy of power should be distinguished from status hierarchy, though the two were intertwined. Some societies have more hierarchy of the status sort than others. The Church of late Antiquity was on the high end of the hierarchy scale. There was a multiplicity of gradations of status within the clergy, as well as a sharp differentiation between clergy and laity.
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